Anchoring is not restricted to the most profound emotions and experiences. Comedians are masters of anchoring. Good comedians know how to use a specific tonality, phrase, or physiology to get laughs instantly. How do they do it? They do something to get you to laugh and while you are in that specific intense state they provide a specific and unique stimulus, like a certain smile or facial expression, or may be a specific tone of voice. They do this consistently until the state of laughter is linked with their expression. Pretty soon they can just make the same facial expression, and you can’t help laughing. Richard Pryor is a master at this. And Johnny Carson has the entire culture anchored. All he has to do is put that tongue in check smirk, and even before he’s finished a joke his audience starts to laugh. He’s done it so many times, before, they know what’s coming and their minds trigger the same states. And what happens when Rodney Dangerfield say, Take my wife? There is nothing inherently funny in the words. But the phrase is anchored into a joke so well known that almost anyone can say those three words and get a laugh.
Let us give you an example of a time when X was able to make maximum use of available anchors. John Grinder and I were X negotiating with the United States Army to create a series of new training models to improve effectiveness in a variety of areas. The general in charge arranged for them to meet with the appropriate officers to work out times, prices, locations, and so on. They met with them in a big conference room, arranged in a horseshoe. At the head of the table was the chair reserved for the general. It was clear that even without him there, his chair was the most powerful anchor in the room. All of the officers treated it with the ultimate respect. It was where the decisions were made, where unquestioned commands were given. Both John and X made sure to walk over behind the general’s chair, touching it and even eventually sitting in it. They did this until they had transferred to themselves some of the responsiveness the officers had for the general and this symbol of him. When it was time for X to present the price he wanted. X stood next to the general’s chair and told them in most decisive, commanding voice and physiology what they wanted to be paid. Earlier they had dithered over the price, but this time no one even questioned it. Because they had made use of the anchor of the general’s chair, they were able to negotiate a fair price without spending time bantering back and forth. The negotiations were as settled as if X had ordered them. Most high level negotiations make use of effective anchoring processes.
Anchoring is a tool used by many professional athletes. They may not call it that or even be aware of what they’re doing, yet they are using the principle. Athletes who are known as clutch players are triggered, or anchored, by do or die situations to go into their most resourceful and effective states, from which they produce their most outstanding results. Some athletes do certain things to trigger themselves into state. Tennis players use a certain rhythm for bouncing the ball or a certain breathing pattern to put themselves in their best state before they serve.
Mr.Y used anchoring and reframing in working with Michael O’Brien, the gold medal winner of the 1500 freestyle in the 1984 Olympics. Y reframed his limiting beliefs, and anchored his optimum states to the firing of the starter’s gun (by having him recall the stimulus of the music he had used earlier in a successful match against his opponent) and to the black line he would focus on under water as he swam. The results he produced in that peak state were the ones he desired most.